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Child Labour Ethics through the Prism of Utilitarianism and Deontology

DOI: 10.4236/oalib.1107140, PP. 1-14

Subject Areas: Business Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility

Keywords: Child Labour, Deontology, Utilitarianism, Ethics

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Purpose: Grounded in the theoretical concepts of utilitarianism and deontology, this paper aims to evaluate the issue of child labour from an ethics perspective. By linking utilitarianism with normative stakeholder theory, relevant stakeholder groups are being identified in order to examine their influence on and role in the occurrence of child labour allowing for a practical reference. The findings may serve companies in particular as a basis for decision-making in the development of their value chains. Design/Methodology/Approach: The author uses a literature review in order to analyze the findings of existing literature on the topic of child labour in an ethics context, thereby drawing on literature, indexed in Web of Science and Google Scholar by employing forward and backward citation analysis. Findings: The investigation of child labour in terms of ethics yields conflicting results. From a deontological perspective, child labour can never be ethical and should always be rejected as it is not wanted to become a general law. In contrast, according to a utilitarian sentiment, child labour is ethically justifiable as long as the beneficiaries of the labour are greater in number than the children working or suffering. Originality/Value: The examination of child labour from the perspective of deontology and utilitarianism in conjunction with normative stakeholder theory constitutes a novelty in the ethics literature. The integration of theoretical findings into a practical business context provides additional value for managers and global supply chain managers.

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Daniel, K. and Patrick, S. (2021). Child Labour Ethics through the Prism of Utilitarianism and Deontology. Open Access Library Journal, 8, e7140. doi:


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